Thursday, August 11, 2022
There are three ways to see three impressive natural bridges in the park. You can see a lot driving the loop and walking a bit from the overlooks. You can also hike the canyon to see all three, but the kicker is you have to walk back across the mesa to get back to your car, which makes a 12-mile hike. We opted for middle ground of hiking into the canyon, along the bottom to see Sipapou Bridge and come back out of the canyon at Kachina Bridge, across the mesa to the parking lot;
It is a great hike in a beautiful canyon where there are two beautiful natural bridges. The canyon itself is beautiful, and people have lived and hunted here since 700 BC or longer. There are ruins and petroglyphs throughout the park. It is no doubt a beautiful canyon with lots of interesting places.
I thought walking the bottom would be easy, but it is not. The trail is unmaintained because a stream runs through the canyon sometimes, so it is sandy, and when it floods, lots of debris is left behind. We saw lots of tracks that could have been deer or goats, or both, but never saw anything. We did see several ruins, and I think there are plenty we didn’t see. Also there was a petroglyph wall that had been marred by visitors making handprints by putting their hands in mud. You can see the difference when you look closely. This is part of the reason many historical sites only allow visitors on guided trips. We humans!
I think my expectations were different than what we found, which mad for a bit of a struggle. The hike across the mesa was more difficult than I expected. Looking back though, I would rate this as one of the best hikes of our trip.